Obama Wraps Up His Hawaiian Vacation

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 2, 2009; 11:35 AM

CHICAGO, Jan. 2 -- President-elect Barack Obama arrived home in Chicago on Friday after bidding adieu to his native Hawaii and wrapping up a 13-day pre-inaugural vacation. He planned to spend just over 48 hours at home before moving his family to Washington on Sunday, in time for his daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, to begin classes at Sidwell Friends School. The future first family will stay at the historic Hay-Adams Hotel, just steps from the White House, before moving to Blair House on Jan. 15.

Obama concluded a relaxing respite in Hawaii during which he remained largely secluded at a rented seaside vacation compound with his wife, Michelle, their daughters and several friends from Chicago and their families. As the Obamas left, the president-elect waved from inside his black SUV to hundreds of local residents who lined the streets. A few residents waved ti leaves, a traditional Hawaiian blessing.

Obama maintained a relatively low profile in Hawaii, some days venturing out in public only for his morning workout at a Marine Corps base.

Making his last stop at the gym Thursday morning, he was greeted by about 20 onlookers. "We love having you with us," one woman told him. Obama shook hands, posed for pictures and signed autographs with a red Sharpie.

"I wish I could hang out with you, but I've got to go home," he told the crowd.

Twice, Obama took his daughters on outings, including visiting the Honolulu Zoo, taking in a dolphin show at a marine park and stopping for shave ice, one of his favorite local treats. Early in the trip, Obama and his family attended a private memorial service for his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died of cancer at 86 on the eve of the presidential election.

Obama's aides have not said how the family celebrated the New Year's holiday, and offered few details about how they spent Christmas. The family had a natural cut tree, opened presents Christmas morning, and enjoyed a traditional dinner of turkey and ham. On Dec. 25, the president-elect visited military families eating dinner at the Marine base.

President Bush, ending his own holiday respite, was scheduled to return to Washington on Friday from his ranch in Crawford, Tex. Bush and the first lady have been away from the White House since Dec. 23, when they went to Camp David before leaving for Texas three days later.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company